Key Questions Which Market Research Addresses

Market researchIntroduction

Market research is the analysis which allows businesses to have a thorough understanding of the markets in which they operate. Such an understanding allows organisations to sell effectively, through targeting customers. It also allows companies to identify new opportunities. To be effective, there are a number of questions which need to be considered. This post outlines some of these questions under three headings.

Try to get answers to the following questions:

1. Existing customers

a. What are their views regarding our products and services?

b. What need is our product or service fulfilling?

c. What factors are important in their decision to buy from us?

d. What do they think of our prices?

e. What service do they expect from us?

f. How do they rate our customer service?

g. How do our customers think we could develop or refine our products or services?

2. Potential customers

a. What customers are we not doing business with – ie who are our potential customers?

b. How many are there?

c. How much of our service or product do they buy from our competitors?

d. What criteria do they use when buying?

e. How can we get them to buy from us?

f. What future improvements or enhancements do they expect from us?

g. Where and when do they buy?

3. Market trends and competitor intelligence

a. Is demand for our product growing or reducing?

b. What are the current economic and market trends?

c. How do we think buying behaviour will change in the future?

d. What innovations are our competitors working on. Could these make our products or services obsolete?

e. What are our competitors’ plans? How are they changing?

f. What are the competitors’ products and how are they priced?

g. What channels are used by our competitors, how do they promote their products and services?

h. What future legislation could impact on our market. Is there any in the pipeline?

A thorough understanding and analysis of the questions set out under these three headings will enable an organisation to build up a much fuller picture of its market.

To answer these questions, there are various resources, including the local business library, the relevant trade association and publications, the Office for National Statistics, reports in business magazines, local authorities, Chambers of Commerce, UK Trade and Investment, the internet, your own data, your customers, and, finally, commercial publishers of market reports (KeyNote; Euromonitor; Mintel; Datamonitor; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and Market & Business Development).

To complete the picture, it is often necessary to undertake field research – both quantitative (statistical information) and qualitative (feelings, attitudes and motivation). Techniques for this often include the use of surveys, discussions, observation and experimentation.

I hope that this is a useful summary of the type of information organisations will require if they are to undertake market research.